In-form Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco is in part sheepish about the furious speculation building around his likely State of Origin debut this year while at the same time drawing confidence from the buzz linking his name to higher honours.
Tedesco is even being mooted as a bolter for the Kangaroos in their Trans-Tasman meeting with the Kiwis in Rep Round, though he is a lock for another City Origin jersey that weekend if Mal Meninga opts for Darius Boyd or Greg Inglis at fullback.
"I'm enjoying it. Obviously when your name gets tossed around for rep honours, it's a bit of a confidence-booster," he said.
He said the constant speculation over something out of his control can "get a bit annoying sometimes" but it comes with the territory.
He joked that clubmate and Blues hooker Robbie Farah is starting to get agitated that all he gets asked now is about Tedesco’s Origin ambitions.
"Robbie's been giving it to me – that's all he gets asked about too!" Tedesco laughed.
"You've got to expect that if you're playing some good footy but team-wise it's disappointing how we're going at the moment [with four losses]. Hopefully I can continue my form and we can start to get some wins on the board."
Tedesco said he hasn’t spoken to Blues coach Laurie Daley – who told NRL.com recently he is not considering the Wests fullback for a wing spot despite Tedesco’s strong showing there in his rare outings on the wing for City Origin and Italy.
"I spoke to him a bit at the start of the year and obviously he said he's looking at me and I'm in contention. He just wanted me to keep up the good form and hopefully I'm doing that," Tedesco said.
"Obviously if the opportunity's there [on the wing] I'm going to take it. I'm not going to say no to a rep jersey. I've played wing before – I started a few games with the Tigers on the wing, then played City Country on the wing. I've got a bit of experience there but obviously would prefer to be at the back. I'm much more comfortable there. If I get the chance, I'll give it a crack."
Another possible Origin debutant this year is Panthers fullback Matt Moylan, who is also being considered as a Blues fullback or as a bench utility by Daley. Moylan has excelled every time he’s had a chance at higher honours, including at fullback for City last year and in an outing for the Prime Minister’s XIII. He’s the only man in the frame to prevent the unlikely scenario of Tedesco not starting at fullback at all during rep round.
"Last year I was stuck on the wing and Matty Moylan was at fullback. I didn't get too many opportunities on the wing there. But if I do get selected at fullback, it is a step up from club footy so it is a chance to show that you can perform in those higher games," Tedesco said.
"It's not too bad though, we get along. He's cool. He can slot into the halves if need be and I can slot onto the wing. We've got those options to slot into the team if we're both picked. There's no dramas there," he added.
The fleet-footed fullback is comfortably the top tackle-breaker so far in 2016 with 43 in six games so far and is also the season’s top try scorer with eight four-pointers.
Tedesco believes he is in even better form now than he was last year.
"Last year at the start of the year I was coming off the fractured kneecap and was still trying to find my way through the start of the year and found some form at the back end of the year. I'm just continuing on from that. Talking of rep honours, I guess my form must've improved a bit!" he said.
This article first appeared on NRL.com.